Think back to the days before smartphones and GPS.Before embarking on a road trip or venturing out to places unknown, you’d grab a map or road atlas. Without one, you’d have trouble getting to your destination. Even today, you would be unwise to plan such a trip without looking at a map online or planning a route on your phone.

Every marketing dollar we spend, every communication we send is all in the name of results. Your message must be more than delivered – it must be internalized. This is how you move your audience to feel, and ultimately to act. If your communication isn’t spot-on, your message can’t do its job, and results will suffer.

While no two objectives are exactly alike, the fundamentals of getting there are the same; you must have a strategy in place. The question is, what drives that strategy forward, ensuring you end up where you want to be?

Your communications strategy is driven by two things: brand and desired effect. Every tactic you use – whether it’s PR, copywriting, or something else – should support both but never be the driving force. Tactics have a funny way of sneaking into the driver’s seat, shoving your strategy aside. But this muddles your message and blocks your view of your ultimate goal. And that renders every other effort less effective.

A properly-driven communications strategy requires a deep understanding of your brand. This understanding will help you ensure that each move you make and every tactic you use is in keeping with that identity. Knowing your brand is the ultimate navigation tool. It’s how you keep every communication clear and on-message.

When the money is spent and the communication has been delivered, what do you want the results to be? Before deciding on any tactics, should be able to clearly and specifically articulate your ultimate goal. Then, keep it in your sights at every turn. It’s the only way to ensure your communication methods propel you toward the results you want.

When planning your communication strategy, make sure your brand and desired effect are seated firmly in the front seat. That’s how you make every communication count.